Fall 2021 - WL 330 D100

Special Topic in World Literature (4)

Adapting World Literature for the Screen

Class Number: 7138

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    RCB 7300, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Seminar on a topic in World Literature. This course may be repeated for credit when different topics are offered.


Adapting World Literature for the Screen

Screenwriting is both an art and a science.  The novel, as a form, is generous.  It has the ability, perhaps even the desire, to absorb anything and everything: from poetry to personal essay and memoir, even art and photography.  The novel’s generosity – and gullibility – are infinite.  But film is less forgiving.  It is, to put it bluntly, an unforgiving form.  It does not allow one to ponder, meander – go off course – for even a minute.  The exploration of the human condition (the art of screenwriting) is still at the core of all great movies, but this exploration is presented through a precise structure (the science of screenwriting). 

In this course, we will focus on adapting a novel from World Literature for the screen.  How do we take a generous form and translate it into a most exacting one?  Through technique.  We will study Aristotelian three-act structure, look at the anatomy of a scene, focus on a character’s goals, the conflict that ensues, and the theme that emerges as a result.  Through a combination of lectures, workshopping and writing exercises, we shall learn how to enable compelling characters make that deadly and dangerous jump from the page to the screen – and still keep them gloriously alive in the process.


  • Structure 20%
  • Writing Exercises 5%
  • Original Scene 15%
  • Written Feedback 10%
  • Participation & Attendance 15%
  • Original Script (Act One) 35%



The Bitch, by Quintana, Pilar; August 4, 2020 (this is the novel for adaptation in the course)
Additional Readings/Viewings assigned by Instructor
ISBN: 9781642860597

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.